It was like a miracle, an act of divine intervention in the affairs of men. Yes, a man who was opposed to the ordination of women was nominated to become a Diocesan Bishop in the Church of England.
Seriously, a traditional Anglo-Catholic, Philip North, was approved and ready to go as the next Bishop of Sheffield, even though he's against the ordination of women. Remarkable, and a true test of the CofE's commitment to tolerance and inclusion.
The same tolerance, let the reader understand, which undergirded the small denomination's 2014 decision to allow women to become bishops. This, it was promised, would never prevent a traditionalist from getting one of the church's top jobs. No, from henceforth the Elysian pastures of England's State Church would be home to two integrities, one for and one against womyn priests.
Such a beautiful, irenic vision! You can almost see the unicorns frolic and gambol amidst the rainbows of the declining denomination's polity. And, speaking of rainbows, it was a crock all along.
Advocates of womyn priests were so enraged by North's nomination and caused such an uproar that North felt obliged to withdraw from the position. "It is clear," he stated, "that the level of feeling is such that my arrival would be counter-productive in terms of the mission of the Church in South Yorkshire and that my leadership would not be acceptable to many."
So, while the Church of England remains a place of "mutual flourishing" and respect for all, on paper, in reality it's a rather different thing. A place of flourishing for anyone, as long as they're on board with the great Gospel Mandate that never was, to ordain womyn.
Good luck, CofE trads. And sorry, Philip, you deserved better.
Your Old Friend,